Ok, back from holiday, here are my thoughts :-)
What I mean by continually process information at speed is basically just listening or reading or doing some other active with native material, at or as near to native speed as you can manage.
To do this, you need to be able to process a constant stream of input at a speed that is conducive to performing that activity in an enjoyable manner, and being able to do that for sustained periods of time.
With listening, this means reaching a point where you can understand (most) things as they are said without (much) mental effort because if you slow down at all, you'll miss the next sentence while processing the last sentence and it will all come undone, and if it takes up too much mental effort you'll soon get tired and won't be able to process anything.
With reading, it means reaching a point where you can understand (most) things with confidence and without needing to look things up in a dictionary (even just to check you were right), otherwise the constant stopping and starting will be grating. You need a modicum of speed (no need to speed read, but ideally you'd be able to read at common speaking speed) otherwise you'll never finish anything in a reasonable time, which will cause a negative feedback loop, and you need the stamina to do it for long periods of time without fatiguing your brain.
Getting to that level takes time, and in order to make it you need to be focusing on the task at hand - which in the above two cases is going to be exposure to native material and using that material as your main source of learning - i.e. you want to be able to read/listen to this material and so that is what you should be spending your focus and energy doing. Flashcards can help consolidate the things you are learning with this process, but they shouldn't take up the main bulk of your learning time and/or be the major focus of your learning - this includes both revision and maintenance/creation.
Flashcards are misleading in that they feel like work, and make you think you are improving because you can see deck size increasing and you're hitting all your revisions, but they rely on you to mark when you know a word and often the bar for 'knowing' a word in a flashcard revision is significantly lower that the bar of recognising a word instantly in a constant stream of surrounding context. If you pause for a fraction of a second before remembering the word when flashcarding, you'll probably mark the word as 'known' and move on. If you pause for a fraction of a second before understanding a word when you are reading or listening then it's going to cause problems.
Building up the mental stamina to understand continually for a prolonged period of time also requires effort and is not things that you can do just by flashcarding isolated words or sentences. The only way to build up that proficiency is to practice doing it. Obviously 'just use native content' isn't really applicable to beginners, you probably need a solid intermediate level before it starts to become feasible.
Even then it will always be difficult initially, and so you break it down in to smaller pieces - just like the link querido listed above as my source of inspiration. Take some native content, break it down in to manageable parts, practice listening/reading until you understand each manageable part, then put the manageable parts together, and repeat the process daily for a period of weeks/months and slowly the manageable parts grow in length, and eventually you reach a point where you can listen to TV/radio/movies and/or read native content.
Flashcards are also unhelpful in that they play to fears about forgetting things you have learnt and they use that fear to keep you on the hamster wheel long after you should have gotten off. The reality is that it's ok to forget some of the things you have learnt (and in fact you'll do that constantly with flashcards anyway). As I've mentioned elsewhere, you don't really need to worry about forgetting 'important' words if you are getting regular exposure to native content because either the important words will occur with regular enough frequency that you won't forget them, or they won't appear with enough frequency in which case it's safe to say they are not important at this point in time and so you don't need to worry about them yet.
Regarding tools and techniques you should be looking for anything that doesn't require much effort to use and configure. You need to be spending time on learning, not in wrangling software, not in splitting audio files and not in preparing to learn.
This is why I prefer Pleco over Anki - flashcard creation and maintenance requires zero effort and takes effectively zero time. This is why I created Chinese Text Analyser because it simplifies the process of extracting unknown words and in determining if something is at a suitable level.
You should also be looking to avoid accumulating things - just keep getting exposure to new content that interests you. If it doesn't interest you, put it aside and move on. Also make sure to pick things at the appropriate level - if it's too difficult, put it aside for now and find something easier until your level improves.